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Millions more people will use Brave's ad-blocking browser by year-end, startup predicts

It's a small fraction of the user base for rivals like Google Chrome, but it's a big step up for a startup trying to improve privacy on an ad-funded web.

Brave browser logo

Brave Software

Brave Software has 2.2 million people using its ad-blocking web browser and expects it'll roughly double that, or more, by year's end.

"User growth remains strong, and we anticipate millions more by the end of 2018," Brave said in a blog post Friday. Roughly three quarters use the browser on mobile devices and one quarter on personal computers, and most users are in the United States or Europe, Brave said.

The number of users is far short of the figures enjoyed by better established browsers, mostly notably Google's Chrome, which has more than a billion users and accounts for about 57 percent of web usage today. Even Firefox -- the browser formerly overseen by Brave co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Brendan Eich -- has about a million users each month.

But it's still a notable figure, especially given that it's hard to get people to switch browsers once they're settled in. The more people use Brave, the better its chances of delivering on its hopes of an online advertising market that can target ads toward people's individual interests without infringing their privacy.

Though Brave blocks ads by default, it also can be set to contribute money to websites, YouTubers and Twitch videogame streamers who sign up to receive payments from Brave users. The payments, in the form of Brave's basic attention token (BAT) crypto-tokens, can be bought for ordinary money or received through occasional promotional infusions from Brave itself.

About 3,500 websites have signed up to receive the Brave payments, as have 10,400 YouTube creators and Twitch streamers, Brave said Friday.

In coming months, Brave expects to start showing ads if you choose to see them. The ads will be targeted by software within the browser so that advertisers, website publishers and Brave itself won't know particulars about you. Until the ad technology gets fully up and running, though, Brave expects to just deliver BAT to anyone continually using its browser.

Brave, like many new browsers today, wasn't started from scratch. The company relies on the open-source browser underpinnings of Chrome, called Chromium. That gives Brave some website compatibility advantages, but many browser extensions don't work with Brave. Later this year, Brave plans to take a step closer to the Chrome software in part to improve that extension compatibility, the company said.

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